Lesson Time:
45 to 60 minutes



During the three build sessions, facilitators guide the learners through constructing the case, connecting the components, and successfully powering up the Piper mini computer.

This lesson incorporates final reflection before moving on to Phase 2.

Following this lesson, have students complete Summative Assessment 1.4





Project Manager



Hardware Engineer


This is the wrap-up lesson for building the computer.

Students will continue to work together and celebrate their success in building the computer and seeing it work by applying power. In this final phase, students will be able to identify the different components that make up a computer and how they work together.



Students will:


Explore how physical connections to components build a mini computer system, including both input and output devices.


Construct a model that illustrates how hardware and software work as a system.



Troubleshoot and problem solve to ensure Piper computer case and components power up correctly.


  • Students are in the same teams as before, or make adjustments as necessary to facilitate good teamwork.
  • Charge the batteries before every session.
  • Retrieve student team storage boxes with Piper build components.
  • Hand out batteries and speakers to students when they have completed their build and you have checked it for accuracy. Tell them to not turn off the battery until they learn the proper shut down sequence.

Introduction (2-5 minutes)

  1. Announce expectation: Today is the last session to build your Piper Computer.  
  2. Remind students to use the Teamwork chart. “What can we do today to ensure that we hear and see teamwork?”
  3. Explain to students that they are working on a system. Have students predict the last step in completing their system (the computer). You can use the “After” column of their visual organizer. 
  4. “How do we get power to a computer? How do we turn the computer on?”
  5. (Hold up a Piper battery pack) “The power bank for our computer needs to be charged. I will handle that for you for safety reasons. You’ll know it is fully charged when all the lights are blue. There is an on/off switch that you use turn it on. Each class, you will return your battery to me so that we can ensure they are charged up.”
  6. “Why do we have to be careful about power sources and plugging things in?” (Example answer: to prevent electrical shock)

See teamwork example here.


Main Activity (50-75% of class time)

  1. Students finish building kit using the blueprint. Try not to micromanage here; students will make mistakes and find ways to solve the problem themselves.
  2. After each team finishes the build, they should ask for a checkoff. Use the picture in the center of the Blueprint. Go through each of the components and cables out loud and give accolades for good work, and suggestions for improvement. Celebrate! They just built their first computer!
  3. When the computer is complete, give the team a battery to plug in. Tell them to verify that the computer comes on and wait until you can come back to demonstrate the proper shut down sequence.

Debriefing Activity (25% of class time)

  1. Teacher led discussion: Guide students through the importance of connections in their build. The goal is to have students identify the connections that needed to be made in order to have a complete and functional Piper Computer.
  2. Lesson 1.4 Building Review slides. Students should take notes from the slides and update their graphic artifacts or parts poster/notes, then explain to teammates or whole group by swapping notes or posters.
  3. Review vocabulary words and definitions that were encountered during the lesson.
  4. Through group discussion, encourage early adopters to help others clarify misconceptions and answer questions as needed.


  1. Extend: Have a group discussion comparing their Piper Computers to other computers the students interact with daily (desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.). Share earlier versions of computers, including the human computers of NASA (see: Dorothy Vaughan), the original IBM or Steve Job’s early prototypes. Have students consider how computers have evolved over the course of history.*
  2. How would you define a computer?
    * This extension discussion could help you reinforce the computer science learning around the role of technology in society and culture (reference CA CS standard CA CS 3-5.IC.20 Discuss computing technologies that have changed the world, and express how those technologies influence, and are influenced by, cultural practices.)

Closing Activity (15-20% of class time)

  1. Co-produce your learner’s own “top 10” concepts from summarizing Lesson 1.4 Building Review slides in their own words.
  2. Review initial answers from the Phase 1 Formative Assessment (found in Lesson 1.1)
  3. Use Assessment Bank and select a summative assessment.
  4. Have students complete these reflection questions:
    • How is a computer an example of a system?
    • How are blueprints used in STEM?